The World of David the Gnome, or David the Gnome as it is better known, is a gorgeous animated series from the late 80s. It was created by Spanish company, BRB Internacional, and distributed to the rest of the world in 1987 with an English language dub. The show follows the adventures of David, a gnome doctor, as he travels around, helping the wounded animals with their issues and making friends along the way. This delightful gem had its English dub developed by Canadian studio CINAR and features the voice talents of Tom Bosley (of Happy Days fame) and the legend that is Christopher Plummer (from The Sound of Music). Here in Ireland, this series, as well as its spinoffs (Wisdom of the Gnomes, for example, about a judge gnome who travels the world settling disputes) aired most notably as part of The Den, on what is now RTÉ 2.
With rumours of a remake falling through due to the rights being currently with the Weinstein brothers and the news surrounding them, it looks like we will have to make do with this series and its many spinoffs. Never fear though, because for your fix of feel-good gnomeyness, you never have to stray farther than this series. At twenty-six episodes, we get the chance to explore not only David and his friends, but also the world of the gnomes, little snippets of each episode dedicated to teaching the viewer about an aspect of gnome culture.
“Let me show you how Gnomes make clothing?”
“Go on then. Sounds good to me,” was usually how my childhood interactions with the show would go.
Thinking back, and during my rewatch for this catch up, my earliest memories of David and his land was on a morning before school, throwing my coat on, my eyes still glued to the series. I would walk to school, thinking about the gnome episode I had just seen and imagining the possibility of seeing one in real life. That is what this series manages to encapsulate; the sheer attention to detail is breathtaking. The stories are never complex – easy enough for the wandering mind to follow, but still providing a well-rounded experience with each viewing.
Based on a Dutch children’s book, The Secret Book of the Gnomes by Wil Hyugen, this series sells a positive message about wildlife, our environment and caring for the world around us. It isn’t overly heavy with this. It is subtle but apparent enough that one is left to think about it throughout everything else. We are taught tolerance, love and respect as well, and importantly, that the little guy can stand on his own, and bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to a crisis situation. This is most notable in the confrontations between David and the primary antagonists, the dim-witted trolls. David doesn’t fight, but uses his intelligence and wisdom to overcome the situation, passing another positive message about violence not always needing to be the answer.
Tom Bosley’s voice is so soothing and peaceful and he really is the perfect fit for this character. That brings us on to the characterisation here. The portrayals of everything from the protagonist couple to Swift, the fox that David uses for transportation, is just so fitting. The style and the way the show carries itself is one that allows for the viewer, whatever the age, to get something from. The colours, despite its age, are bright and vibrant, the animation quality stirring up thoughts of older Disney films in its timing and fluidity of motion, the environments looking like gorgeous paintings, filled with wonder.
I watched a couple of episodes for this catch up and from the moment that the show starts, the feel-good vibes start flowing. The opening theme is a compilation of clips, but there is a song and narration that sets the scene for the episode to follow and it is enthralling to the point that you’ll be singing along after a couple of viewings, humming it to yourself throughout the day.
Aside from our positive messages, this show isn’t afraid to throw us a few tear-jerking curveballs. This is no more apparent than in the final episode. You can probably guess without spoilers, but watching this back even as an adult had me holding a lump in my throat as the credits rolled. That is just how magical and captivating this show is and why it is worth checking out. Whether it is with your children or quietly in the corner of a room, every animation lover should experience the world of the Gnomes at least once.
That’s it for another cartoon catch up. As David would say: “Join us next time, friends, goodbye and Slitzweitz!”